How Chinese firms learn technology from transnational corporations: A comparison of the telecommunication and automobile industries
China has been utilizing foreign direct investment (FDI) based on the strategy of “trading market access for technology” since 1978. However, there are differences in opinion regarding the performance of China's strategy. This paper examines the growth of technological capability of Chinese indigenous firms under a revised model of technological learning and catch-up based on research by Kim (1997) and Lee and Lim (2001). The paper investigates the process of industrial growth in China by developing the two cases of the telecommunication equipment industry and the automobile industry, and analyzes the aforementioned strategy from the viewpoint of technological learning and industrial catch-up. This study finds that knowledge was gained by leveraging China's huge market to “trade market access for technology”, and that indigenous firms must enhance the intensity of their efforts to assimilate acquired technologies so as to improve their technological capabilities. Through comparison of the two industries, we find that industrial policy regulating private firms’ market access directly affects the performance of the industrial catch-up.
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